Peugeot will be remembered as one of the most interesting car manufacturers in history. Although most people know it as a car brand today, Peugeot actually started out as a salt, pepper, and coffee grinder manufacturer back in 1842. The marque then turned to steer rod production for crinoline dresses, before switching to umbrella frames, and finally wire wheels for bicycles. This was the beginning of Peugeot’s interest in cars, at the period when the business of personal transportation was just evolving.
Even more interesting, Peugeot was a family business name that could be traced back to the 1700s. The first family member to develop interest in the automobile industry was Armand Peugeot. His first Peugeot car was created from a collaboration with Gottlieb Daimler. It was a simple 3-wheel steam vehicle that was completed in 1889. Since then, the company has grown extensively to compete with industry giants like Mercedes, Jaguar, and BMW. Take a look at the top ten Peugeot car models of all time.
1. 1968-1983 Peugeot 504
The Peugeot 504 made its debut in Paris in 1968. It was a very conservative car compared to its predecessor – the 204 – and featured a longitudinal engine driving the rear wheels. The suspension was soft, the interior spacious, and the general package was a great long-distance cruiser. Soon, the car benefited from different body variations – including pickup, convertible, estate, and coupe – subsequently making it the bestselling car in Peugeot’s history.
The 504 Cabriolet came alongside the saloon, and had a very appealing design coupled with excellent on- road performance. It boasted standard fuel injection that made it fast and effective, particularly the final 5- speed version. Next came the Coupe, with a similarly stunning body on a slightly smaller 504 platform. The best used a PRV “Douvrin” V6 engine, also available in the 604, in addition to a wide range of products like the Alpine Renault A310, DeLorean, and Volvo 262C.
2. 1979 Peugeot 505
When the 505 was introduced in 1979, it was one of the most recognizable saloons on the planet. Its rugged and medium sized profile made it extremely successful in developing countries, especially due to its ability to handle very poor road conditions. In fact, despite European production ending in 1993 to concentrate on the larger 605 and the smaller 405, the car is still produced in Nigeria. The estate models could be fitted with a third row of seats to provide space for 8 people.
The secret of the 505 lay in the integrity of its design. Knowing that the target market needed a well-built car that could withstand all sorts of road conditions, Peugeot consulted Pininfarina to produce the initial design and the well-proportioned shape that suited the car’s personality. Manufactured at a time when Peugeot was dominating the automobile industry, the 505 was exceptionally praised for its handling capabilities. Unfortunately, the car never really got around to be as popular in the UK. Perhaps it was the conservative styling, or people just never got the chance to test its proficiency.
3. 1955-1966 Peugeot 403
Although the Peugeot 403 has almost disappeared from memory, it was actually the first Peugeot model in the U.S. Featuring Pininfarina styling, the car made its debut in 1955 in the form of a spacious and modern variety of sedans, pickups, convertibles, and station wagons. This was the marque’s first collaboration with Pininfarina – the Italian design house – marking the beginning of the influential Peugeot cars’ design. While the 403 was meant to replace the successful 203, they were actually released together for the first half decade of production. They had a slight resemblance and were built on the same platform, but the Pininfarina bodywork gave the 403 a much more spacious interior.
The 403 drove on the same 1290cc engine as the 203, but it also had a bored out version using a 1468cc. As a result, the car was very lively. In 1956, Peugeot introduced an estate model that could be specified with 8 seats organized in three rows. The company also offered a Decapotable cabriolet model from 1956 to 1963, but in limited supply. The overall rugged build and solidity of the 403 made it extremely popular around the world. In a way, the car had a slight resemblance to the elegant Mercedes-Benz 190 in terms of shape, size, and performance. The only difference was in the engines, economics, and suspensions. In its first year in America, Peugeot sold a staggering 6867 units. And the number had already reached 15,787 by 1959. The figures convinced the company to stay in the American market.
4. 1993 Peugeot 306
In 1993, Peugeot finally decided to test the waters in the family hatchback sector. This was manifested in the form of the 306. As it turned out, this would become one of the most popular Peugeot models of all time. Under the hood, the car ran a wide range of engine options. Apart from the earlier 1.4, 1.6, and 1.8 liter petrol units, the car also offered both turbocharged and normally aspirated 1.9-liter diesel engines.
In February the following year, Peugeot introduced three-door versions as well as 2-liter petrol engine S16 and XSi hatchbacks, rated at 155bhp and 123bhp respectively. The S16 was later replaced by the faster GTi-6 model. In 1997, the line received a significant facelift, incorporating a new nose, extra equipment, and slight adjustments at the back. Every model now offered power steering as a standard feature. The range also received a new 1.8-liter 16v engine generating 112bhp. Next came the estate edition, with virtually the same trim levels and engine options as its predecessors.
5. 2005 Peugeot 407 2.7 Coupe
The 407 saloon was generally produced as a successor of the Peugeot 406. Introduced in 2005, the car featured a bold new design with a gaping grille and an elongated nose. The coupe version, on the other hand, went a different direction. It boasted extended overhangs and a broader track, and was more conventional looking than the saloon version. It came with elegant leather seats, which were set lower and further back when compared to the saloon. The steering wheel was also dressed in leather. There were separately sculpted seats for rear passengers. In terms of specifications, the 407 used petrol via a 2.7-liter turbo-diesel, a 3-liter V6, or a 2.2-liter four cylinder engine. The V6, which was already successful in the Land Rover and Jaguar installations, represented a significant advancement in diesel technology, economy, torque, and mixing power.
Only 1kg shy of 1800 in weight, the 407 had a pleasant handling but fell slightly short in the brakes when it came to precision driving. On the other hand, the car was surprisingly sweet to ride on the motorway. The other quandary was in its price tag. With an asking price of around $32,000, the 407 coupe was steeply priced and faced stern competition from other established brands. But Peugeot was known for its unique cars and that was its main selling point. Despite offering almost the same conveniences as the BMW and Mercedes models, Peugeot managed to remain true to itself, incorporating its own unique niche into the automobile market. Even now, more than a decade later, the Peugeot 407 continues to grace our streets, now more refined than ever before.
Written by Garrett Parker
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